Pakistani troops kill 50 militants in tribal regions

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Islamabad, Aug 28 (UNI) In the most severe bombings on Taliban positions by fighter jets and helicopters gunship, since the start of military operation in Bajaur Agency, the security forces killed at least 30 militants in different areas of the troubled tribal region, officials said today.

Up to 30 militants including foreigners were killed in Bajaur near the Afghan border during clashes with security forces while in another battle, helicopters gunship pounded rebel hideouts in Bajaur and killed eight militants. In South Waziristan region, another hub of Taliban and Al Qaeda operatives, 11 militants were killed yesterday.

An army statement said that 75-100 militants attacked one of the military checkposts in the area but the attack was replused and reportedly 11 militants were killed while 20 others injured.

Almost after five days of calm, two warplanes and three gunship choppers appeared in the air all of a sudden and started pounding the suspected hideouts of militants in their strongholds of Salarzai and Loisam in Bajaur yesterday, residents said.

''It was the heaviest bombings since the operation launched on August 6. It shook even the surrounding towns near Loisam town, causing heavy losses to Taliban,'' tribal sources said.

Military officials said jetfighters targeted militant locations in Loisam, Inzari, Loisam Khas and Rashakai village. The sources said the planes bombarded suspected positions of the militants four times during the day.

According to sources, the tribes of Salarzai tehsil earlier in the day convened a jirga or assembly of local people at Pashat village in Bajaur, hometown of former MNA Shahabuddin Khan, in which they wanted to raise a tribal Lashkar or army to take action against militants and their guest fighters.

However, they postponed the jirga when they learnt that dozens of Taliban militants, already aware of the development, had taken positions on their roadside checkpoints for taking action against the anti-Taliban elders.

According to sources, three gunship choppers reached there within no time and started pounding militant positions, reportedly inflicting heavy losses on Taliban fighters. Officials of the paramilitary Frontier Corps (FC), while quoting their local sources, said four among the dead militants were foreigners and three belonged to South Waziristan.

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